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After Nature – After Nature

After Nature – After Nature

After Nature is a side project from Barnsley band The Black Lamps. The Lamps surprised and delighted us around 2015 picking up Album Of The Year in the Editors round up. I believe they are working on their follow up now. However, a certain virus has interrupted many a musicians plans for 2020. Likewise The Black Lamps. In lieu of a true ‘Lamps album, the boys have decided to compile some of their work to date. However the instrumentation and arrangements for this material were felt to not quite suit The Black Lamps oeuvre, hence this release coming under a different guise.

According to Lyndon Scarfe (guitars and programming) After Nature is more dreampop in its leanings than The Black Lamps. To me, they already had that in their armoury. Yet Scarfe is correct, the lion’s share of After Nature pushes the dreampop envelope harder than the Lamps. Before we get to experience this we need to navigate beyond the opening title track. This one really is an outlier. Clocking in at over 10 minutes ‘After Nature’ is a propulsive krautrock workout that drives forward, augmented by increasing electronics. Once beyond the motorik opener, the dreampop album that we were promised lies waiting.

And I love it.

Early songs twinkle, albeit with sinister undertones. ‘Choose’ reflects upon a world of missed opportunities, while ‘This Little England’ laments UK society. Lead singer Liam Stewart adds his own pastoral coo to proceedings while the bass (Greg Firth) is melodic and prominent in a way that will please fans of Wire and New Order.

The album is probably most accessible at its centre. The duo of ‘Crystallised’ and ‘Praise’ both sparkle. The former recalls the early days of proto-shoegazing. Alan McGee would have sold his granny for this. ‘Praise’ is subtler and yes, dreamier. I’m put in mind of the Oceanic bands of the mid and late eighties, of A.R.Kane and Butterfly Child. Other highlights include ‘Snowglobe’, which sounds like a Hammock re-imagining Heaven Or Las Vegas and ‘The Body Count’ which twinkles like a sunrise before its soaring climax.

Overall, the album works beautifully. I think the rebranding is a bit of a red herring personally. The same DNA is clearly present. If The Black Lamps debut album felt like it belonged to the early eighties, After Nature takes its cues from the latter half of that decade. Fans of the former should not hesitate in picking this up.

Bandcamp

The Black Lamps

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